Dilk Wood, the Children’s Wood
The Trust is planning to buy 4.7 acre Smock Wood, rename it Dilk Wood and develop it as a children’s wood. The project is being driven by suggestions from the public and will be financed by grants and donations.
Smock Wood is next to the Trust owned Gorse Field and Hough Mill.
Some years ago the area was called the “football field” as it was one of the few relatively flat fields in the village. For years it was used for growing potatoes until it was planted with about 2,000 trees as part of a National Forest tender scheme in 2000.
Why rename Smock Wood as Dilk Wood?
Over many decades Swannington has been indebted to the many people who have contributed thousands of hours of their precious time to serving the community as parish councillors, school governors and charity volunteers.
We intend renaming the wood as Dilk Wood in memory of John Wilkins, a tireless community champion, founder member of Swannington Heritage Trust and Vice Chairman, who died in 2016. Dilk will be remembered as a representative of all the people who have served the community.
As the name Smock Wood has only been used since 2000 we will not be losing a historical name. The name was a mistake as Hough Mill is a tower mill and not a smock mill.
Why a Children’s Wood?
Children have a lot of fun exploring the Trust’s existing sites, but they are adult orientated properties. The Califat Spinney is a former coal mine with the remains of two engine house complexes and miners’ cottages. The Gorse Field is full of the humps and hollows that evidence its bell pit and gin pit coal mining history, it also has county wildlife site status.
Developing Dilk Wood as a children’s wood will enable us to provide facilities that are unsuited to our existing sites. We intend providing a place that is fun for children where they can enjoy learning about nature and industrial heritage.
Although focussed on children, the wood will naturally be somewhere that everyone can enjoy.
What will happen to the wood?
For the majority of the wood - NOT A LOT. The trees, brambles, hedges and grass will continue to grow. We do not intend to fell swathes of trees to install adventure playgrounds and other facilities that are readily available in village parks and theme parks. We want to conserve and manage the woodland. So what will change:-
Standard woodland management practice is to thin out some of the trees after 15-20 years so as to admit light into the wood and make room for the others to grow. So we will remove a small percentage of the trees, in doing so we will take advantage of the opportunity to create paths through the woodland.
Depending upon the results of our public consultation, we will remove a small percentage of the trees to install facilities such as a children’s cabin. Most of the potential facilities such as an orienteering course, sensory trail and interactive information points will not require trees to be removed.
Standard woodland management practice is to remove the lower branches of trees to admit light into the wood. These branches (brash) and thinned trees will be used for some of the potential facilities selected in the public consultation such as a den making area and a brash maze.
Who is making the decisions?
Ultimately the key decisions are made by the Swannington Heritage Trust Management Committee, as the governing body of our charity. Our approach is that the Dilk Wood project should be driven by the public, this includes:
October 2016 Open Day - Forty children and adults attended the open day and explored the wood. Via survey forms, drawings and lego models 225 suggestions were put forward for children to have fun, learn about nature and learn about industrial heritage.
Project Group - Thirteen of the Open Day attendees expressed an interest in being involved in the project. They have been invited to join the Project Group who will undertake most of the planning and decision making under the supervision of the Trust’s Management Committee. The group includes management committee members, regular volunteers and members of the public who are neither Trust members nor regular volunteers. If you would like to actively contribute to the project please contact the Trust chairman.
November 2016 Shortlisting - The Project Group reduced the 225 suggestions to a shortlist of 30 possibilities (11 fun, 10 learning about woodlands, 9 learning about heritage).
Late November / Early December 2016 Main Public Consultation - The consultation will comprise survey forms delivered to houses in Swannington and Coleorton and an internet version emailed to Trust members and our events list (copy here and on Facebook). A children’s survey using tokens to vote for preferred choices will take place at our Christmas at the Mill event on the 4th December and at Swannington School. A more detailed consultation on learning facilities will take place at Christmas at the Mill.
January 2017 Review Consultation Responses - The Project Group will decide which of the 30 shortlisted ideas should be included in the project, scope and cost what needs to be done to implement them and map them onto a woodland plan.
December 2017 / March 2018 Submit Grant Applications - Develop and submit the grant applications.
August 2017 / July 2018 Implement Project - After grant approval, implement the scheme. It is intended that a monthly weekend working party will carry out a significant proportion of the work (such as pruning trees, developing information boards and making facilities such as a sensory trail).
We are still at an early stage of the project. So much depends on receiving lots of responses to the surveys, public preferences and the grant applications (for which a high level of community support is essential). We will update this page as the project progresses. If you would like to be involved please contact our chairman.